NEW YORK -- Arodys Vizcaino's worrisome right shoulder responded favorably to an extended period of rest. But there are some lingering concerns about how durable and reliable the Braves closer will be over the remainder of the season."I think we're going to have to be careful about pushing him a
NEW YORK -- Arodys Vizcaino's worrisome right shoulder responded favorably to an extended period of rest. But there are some lingering concerns about how durable and reliable the Braves closer will be over the remainder of the season.
"I think we're going to have to be careful about pushing him a lot because we need him to be a part of that bullpen for the next three months," Braves manager Brian Snitker said.
When Vizcaino was activated from the disabled list before Tuesday night's game against the Yankees, he regained his role as the primary closer. But because the veteran reliever's workload will be closely regulated, A.J. Minter may fill the role more frequently, and Dan Winkler could also draw the closing duties on an occasional basis.
"I feel like we have three [closers] because with the experience Winkler got over the past week, he's a guy you could go to also," Snitker said.
Vizcaino had been sidelined since he began feeling shoulder discomfort after appearing four times in a five-day span from June 13-17. His shoulder has bothered him throughout the season, but an MRI exam erased concerns about the possibility he was dealing with structural damage.
Still, going forward, the Braves will be less likely to ask Vizcaino to pitch as frequently as four times within a five-day span. This should create more closing situations for Minter and Winkler. But given their workloads will also be closely monitored as they distance themselves from their own elbow injuries, there is seemingly an even greater desire for Atlanta to attempt to land a late-inning relief option before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Snitker had hoped to ease Vizcaino back into the mix by first providing him a middle-inning relief appearance. But because Minter and Winkler had pitched the previous two days, Vizcaino was the top closing option entering Tuesday night's game.
To create a 25-man roster spot for Vizcaino, the Braves optioned Michael Reed approximately 24 hours after his contract had been purchased. Reed has hit .369 with a 1.072 OPS in 30 games for Triple-A Gwinnett. He did not appear in Monday night's 11-inning win over the Yankees.
Reed's promotion was influenced by the opt-out clause in his Minor League contract that would have allowed him to become a free agent if he hadn't been added to the 40-man roster by Monday. That opt-out clause no longer exists because the 25-year-old outfielder now has a Major League contract.
"I told him the reason you are in this position is your performance dictated that," Snitker said. "'You've been doing really well.' Now he's another one that has options. He's a good one to have in the inventory."
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.